Why the Food Scene in “Forgotten Cities” Is As Important As Those in New York, Chicago, and L.A.

On this episode of Chef AF, our host Chef Jim Berman sits down with Chef Derek Stevens— a Steel City “burning star,” as he calls him, for shining bright in the local food scene. Stevens is the co-owner and executive chef of Pittsburgh’s Union Standard. Both gentlemen are Pittsburgh-natives and they focus their conversation around those cites that seem “forgotten” in the food world.

The two agree that as chefs they are always on the hunt for honest food. Chef Stevens is candid about his favorite Pittsburgh food spots, highlighting establishments like LeoGretta located in the Carnegie neighborhood and ran by Chef Greg Alauzen; as well as, DiAnoia’s Eatery in the Strip District and ran by Chef Dave DiAnoia.

“When I talk about those chefs… when I eat their food, I think ‘Damn, I wish I could cook like this guy’ you know?,” says Chef Stevens. “It’s really heartwarming in a way, you know? They really got it figured out. And sometimes they’re thinking the same thing [about other chefs].”

Listen to the podcast above to hear the full conversation, Chef Steven’s thoughts on the resurgence of downtown areas in cities like Detroit and Milwaukee, and how to cultivate interest for a local food scene in a “forgotten city.”


Show Notes:

  • 1:55 - Chef Derek Stevens’ Background

  • 4:07 - Favorite Pittsburgh food spots

  • 7:37 - Comfort Food vs. Fine-Dining

  • 12:47 - Cultivating Interest for local food scene

  • 17:19 - Incubators and the food scene

  • 23:13 - Labor Shortage

Hosted by:

Jim Berman

JIM BERMAN

Expert Columnist / Show Host


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Worse than getting burned? Losing your mind! Why Mental Health Matters

In today’s Chef AF episode, our host Chef Jim Berman speaks candidly with Chef Curtis Gamble of Pittsburgh’s Station restaurant about a very important topic not only within the restaurant industry but in society today.

Mental Health.

The two talk about the importance of having some sort of anchor outside of the work place, establishing open lines of communication about each individual’s goals, and simply adopting healthier lifestyle habits.

“I think on a day-to-day basis, as I’ve grown older… I’ve kind of calmed down, you know? To be totally candid, quit drinking, things like that… I’ve managed to keep more of a calmness about the kitchen work, a calm kind of intensity to it?,” says Chef Gamble. “And I think that’s translated well to keeping communication open… allowing people to be like candid with how they feel about certain things… the work loads that they have and things like that.”

Listen to the podcast above to hear the full conversation and learn some tips about how to better communicate with your fellow crew members!


Show Notes:

  • 2:26 - Meeting Chef Curtis Gamble

  • 3:50 - How is your head?

  • 5:47 - Work/Life Balance

  • 13:06 - BOH Hospitality

  • 16:59 - How to get your crew to feel comfortable to talk?

  • 23:40 - Advice for young chefs?

  • 26:49 - Blue Collar Work

Hosted by:

Jim Berman

JIM BERMAN

Expert Columnist / Show Host


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Chefs Doing What They Know: Cooking for Pittsburgh

Chefs Doing What They Know: Cooking for Pittsburgh

There is no way that I could have thought my ordinary Saturday would include standing in my ordinary kitchen in eastern Maryland learning of 11 killed and 6 wounded ordinary people.

In my hometown of Pittsburgh. In my neighborhood. In my synagogue. On the anniversary of my bar mitzvah. My phone was acting as a TV as KDKA streamed scenes from Tree of Life; windows were blown out; police in full armor running up Wilkins Ave; “Names of victims not yet released…”

It is no shocker that I have tattoos of the Pittsburgh skyline and of the Pirates’ logo—with a crossed fork and knife rather than the baseball bats; I am a cook, after all.

I am forever a kid from the Steel City.

When the call came from my sister that there were shots fired in my family’s synagogue, everything changed in an instant.

Thinking back to just after the 9/11 terrorist events, a news anchor was on a local Philadelphia station explaining why he was leaving the air. “You see,” he said, “my city needs me. I am a from New York, and I have to go back,” is how I remember that.

While my phone was drilling the unfolding scene into me over and over and over, I only could feel anxious to go to my hometown, too. To do something. To go home.

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Taco Bell's Urban Store Plans and Latest Menu Items

Latest news about Taco Bell are proving the brand’s tagline, ‘Think Outside The Bun,’ still fuels corporate’s decisions. The Tex-Mex QSR chain is breaking its mold by shaking off drive-thrus and adding alcohol to their future locations, in their latest push to expand into urban areas.

According to “Business Insider,” the company that brought to you the Naked Chicken Chips and, most recently, the Naked Egg Taco, had been testing its Taco Bell Cantina concept in seven locations and was slated to open four more by the end of 2017.

Now, they are expecting to open 300 to 350 “cantina-style” stores by 2022.

According to “Food & Wine,” the brand is “zeroing in on big cities like Detroit, Pittsburgh, Boston, and New York (including a plan to open at least 50 locations around the city’s five boroughs.” Each store will be somewhat unique with designs aligning with the local city culture, while featuring digital menu boards and open kitchens.

Taco Bell is known to push the envelope with its menu offerings. Take, for instance, the forbidden bowl and burrito, featuring forbidden rice, being tested in their Irvine location. According to “Thrillist,” a spokesperson told them “No other [fast food restaurant] has tested a black rice product like this." Claiming to be the first to test a dish with a grain product only eaten by royalty in ancient China, hence the name— ‘forbidden.’

That’s why it comes at no surprise that the chain will finally offer boozy drinks like beer, wine, sangria and Twisted Freezes with tequila, rum or vodka at their new urban, cantina-style stores. 

In their Las Vegas flagship location, for example, Spring Valley visitors continue to post pictures with their favorite spiked slush.

I came to Vegas just to get a bacardi baja blast

A post shared by Ava Lavalle (@avalavalle) on

I think I speak for everyone when I say: It was time, T-Bell! It was time...